Wednesday, 17 April 2019 09:03

Next, US may say Chinese-made trouser belts are a risk: Huawei official Featured

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John Suffolk: "All we can do is say: ‘Guys, if you want to come and look, come and look. If you want to come and test, come and test. If you want to do verification, you are more than welcome to'." John Suffolk: "All we can do is say: ‘Guys, if you want to come and look, come and look. If you want to come and test, come and test. If you want to do verification, you are more than welcome to'." Courtesy Huawei

A senior Huawei official says US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may soon declare a ban on trouser belts being made in China, claiming they are a risk to US national security as armies cannot fight with trousers round their ankles.

John Suffolk, a former top British civil servant and now chief security officer at the Shenzhen-based telecommunications giant, made the remarks at the company's 16th annual global analyst summit which kicked off on Tuesday, The Guardian reported.

Suffolk did not mince his words at any stage of his speech, saying he had realised some time ago that he was never going to convince the Americans that Huawei technology is not accessible to the Chinese Government.

“Whether it is because they genuinely believe Huawei are terrible people or China is a terrible country, [I] don’t know,” he said. “All we can do is say: ‘Guys, if you want to come and look, come and look. If you want to come and test, come and test. If you want to do verification, you are more than welcome to'. We don’t believe there is much more we can do.”

For nearly two years, the US has been pushing countries it considers allies to avoid using equipment from Chinese companies, Huawei foremost, in 5G networks. But the US has produced no proof to back up its claims that these products could be used to spy for China.

Only Australia and New Zealand have fallen in line with Washington's dictates, but Wellington has indicated that the initial refusal for telco Spark to use Huawei gear is not the end of the matter. That stance was reiterated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a one-day China visit in April. Huawei sued the US on 7 March, seeking to be reinstated as a telco supplier in the country.

Suffolk said the American Government had failed so far to produce any evidence to back up its claims that Huawei was a conduit for China to spy on foreign countries. Claims that Huawei's 5G technology could be broken into by Chinese spies to listen in on phone calls or to crash vehicles connected through an Internet of Things network were dismissed as fanciful.

The US "cannot keep saying [Huawei] has got some dodgy technology. [NSA whistleblower Edward] Snowden revealed all kind of things going on with American technology,” he said. “No one has revealed anything that we do [is bad].

“They are belittling national security – national security is important and they shouldn’t belittle it. They should face up to the reality that technology is complicated and should work together to solve the problems that we can.”

Pompeo has been the most active of the American officials who are trying to rally other countries to ban Huawei.

“China is just another country: it has a different value system, a different political system, but they’re just people like you or I. What is the real fear? Is it because it’s China or because the technology is better?" Suffolk asked.

“The reality is we’re a Chinese company, our founder is Chinese – that’s not his fault. We’re very proud to be a Chinese company, but being a Chinese company means that in some quarters the spotlight will always be on you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“America says it wants open competition but then says: ‘Huawei, you can’t work in America – you’re banned'. My belief is America should face up to competition, it should face up to competition because American citizens will benefit.”

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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